Video in the classroom
This past June, I had the opportunity to attend an Ed Tech workshop on creating iMovies on the iPad. As a social studies teacher in the sixth and eighth grades, It’s been a goal of mine to incorporate more video into my classroom, so I was excited to head to Cambridge and learn from another humanities teacher. Attending a professional workshop is always a good reminder of what it means to be student again. I try to prepare myself for getting into the zone of learning, which translates to mean that I will be confused before I have the big picture of how my new learning and skills can apply to the classroom.
Video has become such an important medium for students and it has a lot of power and possibilities in the Social Studies and Language Arts classroom. As Danny Groner, a blogger on the website Edudemic states, “Video is not new to the field. What has changed, however, is the accessibility, implementation, and increased dependency on video for learning. If kids have questions on their homework, they will often turn to YouTube or other websites for the answers.” It makes sense, therefore, to harness student interest in the video for academic purposes and ideally for them to create content and unlock new areas of comprehension and creativity with video.
One of the essential questions of the workshop was thinking about ways we learn something new. Whether it’s learning a difficult historical concept, how to shave, or how to drive, there are myriad ways that video can facilitate learning. One of the first video platforms we explored is Vine, which is a social media site that features the seven second video. We were assigned the task to create a story in seven seconds! This was a difficult task. but a fun one, and ultimately was a great icebreaker for the group. If you have the Vine App, you know there are some funny Vines out there, but generally, I think you need at least 30 seconds to get a point across on video for classroom purposes. Another App that we dug into was Stop Motion and Kuma Kuma. These Apps create a sequence of clips that build upon each other in a way that facilities a specific skill. One of our tasks, for example, was to use stop motion with clay and other props to show how to tie your shoe. Honestly, with velcro shoes being the norm today, there are many of us who would have liked our students to watch this one!
Finally, we delved into filming and creating in iMovie. Once you begin a video project, you realized what it feel like a to think like a filmmaker and digital storyteller. The point of view, emotional content, voice, and pacing all add up to a narrative that informs the viewer. I realized how much patience it takes to edit a movie, and how important it is to pay attention to all the visual details.
Currently, my eighth grade social studies class is delving into their first iMovie project by filming an interview. They have read a New York Times article on American’s Ebbing Confidence in Government, and have created five interview questions to test out whether the article is an accurate reflection of adults in their community. After they conduct the interview, they will edit their iMovie and present the interview to the class. While I was assigning this project, one of my students told me, “Ms. Mott, you do know that most people don’t want to be filmed about their views on government?” He made an insightful point. Of course, anything on film could be pushed out to the wider world on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, to name a few; however, this is the world we live in. A world of video and the need to document everything. I told my student to keep the camera on them, and just have the voice of the person they’re interviewing, if they prefer.
The power of video is the story you can tell to a wide audience. I am looking forward to the stories my students tell.
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